‘Fallism 2016’ – when SA students challenged the status quo

Posted on November 11, 2018


Everything Must Fall, the hard-hitting, thought provoking documentary film that provides perhaps the best insight possible into the tumultuous events that disrupted South African university campuses in 2016 will feature in the Netherlandsat the world’s largest documentary film festival from November 15 to 25. It will be part of a programme section entitled Frontline at the 30th annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The film is also a feature at the current Johannesburg Film Festival that ends on November 17. Everything Must Fall was directed by Rehad Desai, the guiding hand behind the multi award winning documentary about the Marikana massacre, Miners Shot Down.

This latest offering from Uhuru Productions traces how the opposition to a proposed increase in university tuition fees morphed into a host of democratic and egalitarian demands. These spread rapidly to encompass the plight of the lowly paid and outsourced cleaning staff and the protest was joined by university bus drivers, campus security workers and several prominent academics.

As the protests spread around the country, the initial demand about fees became “Fallism” with calls to scrap everything from patriarchy and homophobia to capitalism.

Although the film focuses primarily on the Witwatersrand University campus in Johannesburg, it provides a more than adequate insight to the virtually revolutionary situation that erupted on campuses around the country. It also raises the vexed issues of class and colour; of non partisans politics, gender relations, the role of bureaucracies, government and political parties; of the often neglected differences in attitude between students at the historically “white” and “black” universities.

Once again, the gross over-reaction of what remains an effectively paramilitary police force comes through strongly, although, unlike Marikana, it was rubber and not live rounds that were used to sometimes horrific effect. In many ways reminiscent of the Arab Spring movement in Egypt, this latest record of an important aspect of South Africa’s recent history opens up many crucial debates about the future not only in South Africa or at universities alone..

A trailer of the documentary is available:

Posted in: Commentary